Follow Us On

Delaware Youth Wins Top Prize

Brandywine Hundred – The Library of Congress recently announced the winners of its “A Book That Shaped Me” Summer Writing Contest.

The program asked rising fifth- and sixth-graders to reflect on a book that has made a personal impact in their lives. A Brandywine Hundred Library patron, Rachel Smookler, was the 1st Place Grand Prize & Delaware State Winner. Rachel wrote about Jack and Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead.

Photo (l-r) – Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Rachel Smookler, Kate Wetherhead. Photo credit – Joe Bellavia
Photo (l-r) – Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Rachel Smookler, Kate Wetherhead. Photo credit – Joe Bellavia

Nearly 300 young readers submitted essays to participating public libraries in the Mid-Atlantic region in this fifth year of the contest. Launched in 2012 with the DC Public Library, “A Book That Shaped Me” expanded with the help of public libraries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The local libraries offered the contest as part of their summer-reading programs.

Five finalists per state were chosen in an initial round of judging. The finalists each will receive a $50 gift-card prize.

Judging was conducted by members of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The AASL works to ensure all elementary- and secondary-school librarians participate as collaborative partners in the teaching and learning process.

The grand-prize judging round, which selected state and grand-prize winners from the pool of state finalists, was conducted by a panel assembled by the Library of Congress that included educators, children’s authors and Library of Congress staff. This year’s guest author judge was Jason Reynolds, recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, who was a presenter at the 2016 National Book Festival.

Each state winner will receive another $50 gift-card prize. The first-, second-, and third-place grand-prize winners will be awarded additional gift-card prizes in the amounts of $200, $150 and $100 respectively.

Grand-prize winners read their essays during the “A Book That Shaped Me” awards presentation at the Library of Congress National Book Festival. The contest presentation took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 and was emceed by Eun Yang, NBC4 Washington television anchor.

Grand Prize & State Winners

1st Place Grand Prize & Delaware State Winner
Rachel Smookler, New Castle County Libraries – Brandywine Hundred Library, who wrote about Jack and Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead.

2nd Place Grand Prize & Maryland State Winner
Julia Lucy Grumet, Montgomery County Public Libraries – Bethesda Library, who wrote about The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

3rd Place Grand Prize & Pennsylvania State Winner
Mikayla Phasupong, Citizen’s Library, who wrote about The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss.

Delaware Finalists
Molly Amerling, Frankford Public Library
Emily Carpenter, Dover Public Library
Lucy Goodwin, Hockessin Library, New Castle County Libraries
Lauren Woods, Hockessin Library, New Castle County Libraries

The Delaware Division of Libraries, a state agency dedicated to unleashing the potential in all Delawareans in partnership with Delaware Libraries, offers free access to the online catalog (; Wi-Fi; computers/internet; eBooks, programs/workshops, community partnerships, and more.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at, and register creative works of authorship at

Image Credits: LOC

About Staff Writer

First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at

View all posts by Staff Writer →